Whether you’re busy or intimidated by the prospect of a long routine, it can be difficult to squeeze in self-care. However, self care is an important aspect of taking care of your mental health. At the most basic level, self care is about reducing stress and partaking in activities that help restore your energy. So, some days that might mean a long bubble bath, but on other days it might mean taking 10 minutes to complete a task you’ve been putting off. If you’re often busy or pressed for time, here are some self-care ideas that can be completed in 5, 10, or 20 minutes. Consider stealing a moment to prioritize your mental health!
In 5 minutes…
If you only have 5 minutes to spare, consider the following activities.
- Get up and stretch. When was the last time you stood up? Get the blood flowing by getting up and stretching for a few minutes, focusing on any tight or sore spots.
- Enjoy some fresh air as weather permits. Go outside and take a breather for a few minutes. If you have a nice garden or landscape to look at, even better—studies show spending time in nature is great for mental health.
- Concentrate on just breathing. Even a 5-minute meditation can give you insight into your feelings, thoughts, and concerns. Not sure how to start? Try this quick, guided meditation from Goodful on Youtube.
In 10 minutes…
If you have 10 minutes throughout the week, here are some activities to try.
- Complete that task you’ve been putting off. If you can mow the lawn in 10 minutes, that’s a feat. But think about tasks that are more in line with replying to an email or paying a bill you’ve been putting off. You’ll feel better without that stress hanging out in the back of your head.
- Eat a snack. Have you eaten today? When you’re busy, it can be easy to forget to eat, but eating is obviously an important part of staying healthy. Take 10 minutes to enjoy a snack. Try not to do any other chores or caretaking tasks during this time!
- Give yourself a mini-massage. You might feel tension in your neck when you’re stressed, but our hands also carry lots of stress and tension—we just use them often, so it’s not as obvious. But if you have 10 minutes, use your favorite hand cream or lotion (especially in the winter, when hands easily get dry and chapped) and really massage it in. Try to pay extra attention to fingers and knuckles and work out all that stress.
- Connect with a friend. When was the last time you chatted with a friend? Our connections with others are another integral aspect of mental health, so send a friend a quick text message or give them a call.
- Make a cup of coffee or tea. Making a cup of your favorite coffee or tea in a favorite mug can make this routine feel a little more special.
In 20 minutes…
Have a little longer? Try one of these ideas.
- Update your calendar or planner for the week. Knowing what you have ahead of you in a given week or month can help alleviate stress. Additionally, this moment would be a great time to make any doctor’s, hairdresser’s, or other appointments.
- Read a book. It’s easy to waste time scrolling social media or the news for twenty minutes, but this rarely ends up feeling like a restorative activity. Instead, try reading a book.
- Follow a short exercise video or take a walk. Whether you do a 20 minute yoga video from Youtube or just take a spin around the block, exercise is a great way to boost your mood and self-esteem. Over time, you can reap tons of long-term health benefits, too.